Feature

Game of the Week: The Elder Scrolls: Legends

Game of the Week: The Elder Scrolls: Legends

At PocketGamer.biz, we happily sit inbetween the world of business and consumer writing.

You can consider it 'biz-sumer' or 'consum-ness', if you like.

What that means in practice is that we write about the business of mobile games from the point of view of passion about mobile games.

We're not dry number crunchers (quite moist, actually).

Neither are we clueless fanboys, who write articles from the seat of the pants, heart on sleeve etc...

Best of both

In our view, the best mobile games require business and pleasure in equal measure, which is why we're starting our Game of the Week feature.

It's where we'll highlight the games we consider the most significant, hopefully in a positive way, but perhaps sometimes in a cautionary way too.

You'll enjoy or learn something from playing these games, maybe both.


Click here to view the list »
  • The Elder Scrolls: Legends

    The Elder Scrolls: Legends logo

    With everyone and their dog jumping on the CCG craze after Hearthstone's continued success, it can be hard to get excited about any particular license getting in on the action.

    That said, when RPG behemoth Bethesda gets involved with the The Elder Scrolls franchise, people are almost certainly going to take notice.

    And they should too - The Elder Scrolls: Legends isn't just a Hearthstone clone, but a clever and deep CCG which adds a lot to the genre without drifting too far from it entirely.

    The main change here is that the game board is divided into two lanes, meaning you'll have to attack and defend on two fronts instead of just going all out in one area.

    Divide and conquer

    Lanes can have different status effects that hide your creatures, so you'll need to pay attention to what's going on instead of just blindly throwing cards down.

    And there's other little tweaks here and there, like drawing a card each time you take 5 damage, and new card attributes like Prophecies that can give you an advantage in dark times.

    What's interesting is that Bethesda has forgone currency entirely, with card packs costing real money straight-up instead of purchasing gems or what have you.

    It's also got a darker theme than the bright colours and fun times of Hearthstone, which may be off-putting to some, but works in the game's universe.

    But most of all, it's got all the tension and intrigue of a CCG, and it's sure to be a huge timesink for anyone interested in playing cards with others.


  • Bit City

    Bit City logo

    Apple's recent indie games event on the App Store was an exciting time - a new game every day, even on weekends, all from top-class indie developers.

    So when it turned out that NimbleBit was getting involved with a new title, Bit City, we got very, very interested indeed.

    And what a delightful game it ended up being.

    A mix of city-builder and idle clicker, Bit City has you placing buildings down in ever-growing towns to generate cold, hard cash and build up to the next location.

    Build me up

    You have to balance out your different types of buildings to keep demand for them from dropping, and you need to level up various stats to keep the money rolling in.

    And then there's transport to purchase that generate additional funds, and give you bonuses for tapping them every so often, keeping you from just leaving the game to idle forever.

    But even better is that it takes a page out of gold-standard clicker Egg, Inc, with a remarkably similar monetisation model.

    There's a piggy bank that increases how much premium currency you can gain every time you upgrade a skill, letting you set your own limit as to when you want to make an IAP.

    Its a lovely model wrapped up in a gorgeous, engrossing game - one that we've been unable to put down this entire week.


  • Dashy Crashy Turbo

    Dashy Crashy Turbo logo

    Originally launched in December 2015, Dashy Crashy saw such a massive overhaul in its monetisation design and aspects of its gameplay that it's now being relaunched with Turbo suffixed to its title.

    A new name isn't the only big change - there's also a new car rental system to give you a chance to try out any of the cars available, and crucially, there's no more interstitial ads.

    But the core mechanics remain largely unchanged - you're driving straight down a traffic-filled highway, weaving between lanes to dodge other cars.

    Swiping up gives you a speed boost and makes things harder, but rewards you with more points, and the slightest collision leads to your untimely demise.

    Life was a bore

    Do well and you'll unlock new cars to play with, or you can now watch an ad to try out any of the game's cars for a few rounds.

    Each car now has its own different bonus attached - an ice-cream truck allows you to throw out ice cream cones to other drivers, or the auto-car will drive for you if you don't mind not earning any points.

    But its the game's bright colours, short sessions, and general fun atmosphere that keeps it the thoroughly enjoyable experience it always was.


  • Heart Star

    Heart Star logo

    It can be nice to have a relatively quiet week on the App Store, since it allows a smaller game that might otherwise get drowned out the chance to shine.

    In this week's case, it's Jussi Simpanen's Heart Star, a title that started life as a Flash game and has now made its way to iOS.

    It's a cutesy pixel-art platformer about two friends who have to help each other reach the end of the level, jumping on platforms and dodging spikes as they go.

    The twist is that these friends exist in different worlds, so you'll need to switch and phase through walls that don't exist on one character's world to progress.

    Catch me

    This means making precision jumps and carrying each other around to dodge the various obstacles in your path, which makes for some incredibly clever and tricky puzzles.

    It also handles beautifully - while a lot of games with virtual controls seem to fall flat, Simpanen's controls are always perfectly designed to make controlling characters a breeze.

    It is guilty of using huge interstitials every few levels or deaths, which can be annoying, but is ultimately one of the better ways to monetise this kind of game.

    And most of all, it's a lot of fun. Heart Star may not be the biggest game of the year, but it's not one you should miss out on.


  • Fire Emblem Heroes

    Fire Emblem Heroes logo

    Say what you will about Nintendo's first few attempts at mobile games - it's still exciting when a new game of theirs launches.

    Miitomo may have dropped off the global conciousness in a matter of weeks, and Super Mario Run has angered fans with its relatively steep price tag, but it's still early days on the platform for the company.

    So when we heard Fire Emblem Heroes was going to be a traditional free-to-play title, complete with gacha, energy meters, and the like, our interest was piqued.

    And knowing that the series is famed for its strategy-RPG stylings - not something Nintendo would strip away from it, surely - it was destined to be a solid game no matter what.

    Heroes of time

    And what do you know, Fire Emblem Heroes is actually a really, genuinely good game.

    It plays out through bite-sized turn-based skirmishes, with a team of four heroes at your disposal to move around the map and take down the enemy.

    Its monetisation is light, its premium currency is plentiful, and aside from some early network hiccups, it's an incredibly smooth and polished experience.

    If it gets its hooks into players as well as it has us, Fire Emblem Heroes could be around for a very long time indeed.


  • WWE Champions

    WWE Champions logo

    When we say WWE Champions was in soft launch for a long time, we mean a long time - 13 months isn't exactly to be sniffed at.

    And while debates raged about whether the game would actually see the light of day or not, it did continue to receive regular updates and new pieces of content as development wore on.

    We finally heard about its release date when Scopely quietly muttered about its upcoming launch at Pocket Gamer Connects London 2017, a full year after it had been soft-launched.

    And now it's available, and we find ourselves asking, was it worth the wait?

    Not quite stone cold

    Yes, is the answer - though its probably not to everyone's tastes.

    Played like a match-3 puzzler, it's part casual game, part RPG, and complete with real-life wrestlers and their moves to satisfy the wrestling nuts out there.

    It's simple to play and easy enough to lose yourself in for a good half an hour at a time, and thanks to a forgiving energy system and early generosity, you might find yourself getting sucked in.

    How the game survives will be another question, but with promised live ops including the ability to play real-life match-ups after the event, and new wrestlers to be added in the future, there should be plenty of fun times ahead for those who stick around.


  • Super Mario Run

    Super Mario Run logo

    To say Nintendo's foray into the mobile world in 2016 has been a success is something of an understatement.

    Miitomo may have been fun for just a day, but it got the world excited and talking about what the future for Nintendo could be - and made sure everyone had a Nintendo Account ahead of the next releases.

    And Pokemon GO has been a runaway success, genereating hundreds of millions in revenue and holding on to users several months down the line - although Nintendo didn't really have anything to do with it.

    But as the year draws to a close, the Mario factory has finally brought its biggest star to the platform, and in a move that everyone saw coming, Super Mario Run is absolutely brilliant.

    It's-a-me!

    While some couldn't fathom how Mario would survive in an endless-runner, Nintendo has once again proven that it can take any technology and make something fun with it.

    It feels and plays exactly like a Mario game, even though you have no control on your direction of travel, and it has all the social mobile trappings it needs to help it survive.

    And while some may cry foul at the $9.99 price tag - accompanied by only 24 levels that take less than 2 hours to complete - it's a game that will surprise those willing to take the plunge with its many hidden depths.

    How big a success it will be in the long-term is yet to be seen, but it does prove that Nintendo still knows how to make a great game, even if it's not on its own platform.


  • Dawn of Titans

    Dawn of Titans logo

    Typically when a game goes into soft launch, it's usually seen a wide launch within six months. Some games stay longer, some leave early. But six months seems about right.

    When a game stays there for over a year, questions start being asked about whether it will ever see the light of day. When Dawn of Titans went over 18 months in soft launch, we were all but certain it would never launch.

    And yet, against the odds, after 21 months of quietly being available in just a handful of countries, it has now launched around the world.

    Stunning

    One thing you'll notice straight away is that Dawn of Titans is absolutely stunning visually, with its enormous titular Titans stomping across vast battlefields in glorious high definition.

    And if you've got a higher-end tablet, it loads in a matter of seconds, allowing you to dive straight into battles without any hassle.

    Whether the game is fun to play is currently splitting opinion in the office - some say it's clever and strategic, while others think it plays like a game designed two years ago (which it was).

    But it's impossible to deny that Dawn of Titans is one of the blockbuster mobile launches of the year - a considerable feat given Nintendo's entrance in the market - and it'll be very interesting to see how the game performs for Zynga and NaturalMotion.


  • Facebook Instant Games

    Facebook Instant Games logo

    Facebook integrating fully-fledged HTML5 games into its Messenger app is something of a big deal.

    For one, Facebook reckons that over 1 billion people use the service, giving developers access to an enormous audience for their games.

    And it shows that Western companies are finally starting to pay attention to Asia, where chat apps with game integration are already a big deal.

    So while we can't pick out one single game from the 17 the service has launched with, the entire service is a significant moment for Western mobile gaming.

    A ways to go

    As with many launches, the quality of the initial titles varies wildly. Some are wonderful little games perfectly suited to the platform, such as Endless Lake and Bust-a-Move Blitz.

    Others are a little ropey - Pac-Man has lacklustre controls that are largely unresponsive - and some are just last way too long.

    But it's still early days for the platform. There's already big money being invested into it by developers who see it as the next big thing, which can only mean bigger and better games.

    So while Instant Games is more an interesting aside than a vital platform for now, there's still time for it to flourish into something far bigger - which could be very interesting for mobile games on the whole.


  • Titan Brawl

    Titan Brawl logo

    Bringing the MOBA to mobile isn't the easiest of tasks - the only game to really manage it so far is Super Evil Megacorp's Vainglory, and even that has a long way to go match up to its PC counterpart.

    Omnidrone's effort, Titan Brawl, is a far more stripped-back affair than the aforementioned game, but it's a clear sign that with enough thought - and plenty of testing - developers can make it work.

    Soft-launched in May 2016, and one of the first games launched in Google Play's Early Access scheme, it's had plenty of time to iron out its kinks and nail its design, and it's done so admirably.

    MOBA-lite

    Eschewing much of typical MOBA gameplay, Titan Brawl has you building a roster of Champions which you then send down one of two lanes to destory the enemy's Totem.

    You don't control your heroes directly, but you can trigger special abilities to help turn the tide of battle, which is essential for dominating the opponents.

    And there's a solid solo campaign to tackle on top of the usual ranked online matches, giving you a chance to test your skills and beef up your characters before you head off to fight real people.

    It's also a good looking game to boot - bright, colourful characters fill varied environments, and the UI is clean and simple to help you focus in on the action.


  • PinOut

    PinOut logo

    Pinball isn't the first game that springs to mind when you think "classics that could do with an upgrade." But that didn't stop Mediocre from giving it a shot.

    It's taken the humble game of pinball and turned it from a high score chasing challenge into a time attack platformer that's bright, vibrant, and a ton of fun.

    It's all about precise hits of the tiny steel ball, getting it down certain paths to progress onwards in the flashing neon hell maze that Mediocre constructed.

    There's also power-ups to collect along the way, which affects how time works in the game to given you a better shot at reaching the end.

    Ding!

    And there's minigames hidden throughout the world too, somehow, which are as useful to your run as they are fun to play.

    PinOut is being sold on a free-to-start model - you can play the game as much as you like without ads, but you can't save your checkpoints unless you drop cash.

    So you can still enjoy the entire experience for the low cost of absolutely nothing, but should you want to try and see what the end looks like, you may need to buy it.

    And you probably should too - it's a lot of fun to play, has gorgeous visuals, and one of the best soundtracks to grace a mobile game in a long time.


  • FIFA Mobile

    FIFA Mobile logo

    Previous mobile incarnations of EA's popular FIFA franchise have been, to be frank, not very good.

    In a way, they proved that simply trying to transplant a console game directly onto a mobile device isn't necessarily the best way to handle a port.

    So it's nice to see that EA has clearly looked at what it was doing and thrown it out in favour of building something entirely new for FIFA Mobile.

    With a shift in direction to almost entirely focus on the massively popular Ultimate Team mode, FIFA Mobile now actually feels like a fully-fledged mobile title, and not just a watered down console game.

    Familiar but better

    You open packs and build your team, and then take them against other teams worldwide in bite-sized football matches.

    You only take control when you're in possession of the ball, and you can just watch the game play itself or intevene and directly control your passing and shooting if you decide.

    It's a clever system that perfectly suits the platform - so long as you completely ignore the virtual joystick controls that make an unwelcome appearance.

    And the monetisation is perfect too - just ask our IAP Inspector, who said that "FIFA Mobile is not just the first entry that shows any signs of truly understanding the platform, but it's also the blueprint for what I believe will be FIFA's free-to-play future."


  • Invisible, Inc.

    Invisible, Inc. logo

    It's not often we talk about premium games on PocketGamer.biz, given that they're a lot less likely to rake in the kind of money that a monster free-to-play game ever will.

    But when a game like Invisible, Inc. makes the jump from PC and console to the small screen, it's almost definitely worth shouting about.

    A hybrid game of turn-based stealth with roguelike elements, it has you racing against the clock to raise a counter-offensive against a rival spy organisation that's threatening to wipe you out.

    The iPad who loved me

    Cue missions around the globe with your remaining agents as you sneak about, take out enemies, and bypass security systems to gather intel and build up your forces for the final mission.

    It's a dramatic and tense game, with a gradually increasing difficulty and permadeath enforced to prevent players from trying to storm in and shoot the place up.

    It also looks mighty fine to boot, having lost little of its graphical fidelity during the transition from PC to iPad.


  • Warlords

    Warlords logo

    Going from casual to midcore isn't exactly an easy task, particularly if you've been in the casual market for some time.

    So when Wooga announced it was spinning off a new studio, Black Anvil Games, to start working on a midcore title, Warlords, we felt some apprehension.

    And with the game taking its sweet time in soft launch - nearly 12 months, in all - it was touch and go whether the game would even launch.

    But it seems like the extra time spent tweaking the game in soft launch was worth it, because Warlords is really rather good.

    To arms

    A strategy game based on a hex-grid, it distills the strategy genre down to rapid battles and a simple rock-paper-scissors system.

    It's cleanly presented and easy to follow, with a few twists thrown in here and there to keep you on your toes and avoid the action from becoming too basic.

    There's plenty of upgrading to do too, so you can beef up your regiments and make crushing the Orcs even easier.

    And it's very easy-going with its monetisation, allowing you to focus on the important work of just smashing Orcs over the head with a sword.


  • Oz: Broken Kingdom

    Oz: Broken Kingdom logo

    Oz: Broken Kingdom is one of those games that has clearly been in the works for a while, but just appeared out of nowhere.

    Officially revealed at Apple's iPhone 7 keynote event, it stunned the audience with its beautiful graphics, designed to show off the capabilities of the new iPhone's screen.

    And then, appearing suddenly and unexpectedly, it shows up on iOS and Android, gorgeous graphics intact and with plenty of interesting gameplay mechanics to boot.

    It's an intriguing blend of Western CCG and Asian metagame, with combat that feels like a strange mixture of Hearthstone and previous Game of the Week entry Battlehand.

    But if you don't fancy trudging through every battle, you can whack the combat speed up to 3x and hit auto-play, and let the game fire through the combat by itself.

    There's plenty of grinding to do, but you can sim battles once you've earned three stars on them already.

    And there's clans to join and online arenas to battle in, should you feel the need to take your band of Wizard of Oz characters into a fight online.

    It looks beautiful and plays wonderfully too, and is well worth a look if you're curious about how to blend elements from the same genre together into something unique.


  • Sacred Legends

    Sacred Legends logo

    It's safe to say that the Sacred series hasn't had the most consistent game launches.

    The PC and console RPG series experimented with hack-and-slash and side-scrolling brawler entries, so a mobile entry could've gone in just about any direction.

    From following Sacred Legends in soft launch, it looked as though it was returning to its more RPG roots, possibly with dungeon-crawling elements.

    Imagine our surprise then when it turned out to be more of a battler, in the same vein as Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and Marvel: Avengers Alliance.

    Trying new things

    It wasn't an unwelcome surprise, of course - otherwise it wouldn't have found its way onto our Game of the Week list.

    Instead, it takes all the best parts of the battler genre - looting, levelling up, and the all important auto-play - and wraps them up in a neat fantasy package.

    Sacred Legends lacks a squad to level up, instead leaving you to focus on just one character, which does mean you have less to focus on in the meta-game.

    But if you can look beyond that, and engage yourself with your single character, then there's a genuinely enjoyable, attractive, and fun battler here that should keep you coming back for a while after you start.


  • Midnight Star: Renegade

    Midnight Star: Renegade logo

    It's been over a year since Industrial Toys tried to reinvent the FPS for mobile with Midnight Star.

    In that time, president Tim Harris spun-off a new studio to work on a fantasy-themed game, and Industrial Toys started work on the sequel, Midnight Star: Renegade.

    The game soft-launched in March 2016, and we kept track of it as it grew and was moulded into the game it is now.

    And what a lovely game it is.

    Point to point

    Instead of confusing matters with a twin-stick control system, Midnight Star: Renegade has you moving between fixed nodes on the map, and taking enemies down like a moving turret.

    You have a range of weapons at your disposal, including rifles, pistols, grenades, and a whole host of other deadly objects with which to dispatch your foes.

    It looks wonderful too, with a super-stylised sci-fi feel and silky smooth movement, as well as the ability to boost through the air with rocket boots, which is just plain cool.

    You can also expect plenty of loot to grab, weapons and armour to level up, and you can even jump online to take in your friends in frantic battles through the world.


  • Mobius Final Fantasy

    Mobius Final Fantasy logo

    It's safe to say that Mobius Final Fantasy isn't for everyone.

    For starters, it involves a pretty hefty additional download which may or may not install, as our own Jon Jordan found while trying to record an FTUE video.

    Get into it, and you may end up further confused by its complex menus, slightly confusing combat, and genuinely baffling story.

    But, as anyone who plays mobile RPGs developed in Asia will tell you, this is par for the course of the genre these days.

    Judging a book by its cover

    What Mobius Final Fantasy does differently from the others is present itself in wonderful 3D graphics, with detailed enemies and environments to take in as you battle your way through.

    And while the combat may at first seem confusing, once you get your head round it all, you can pull off increasingly clever manoeuveres to fend off the beasts in your path.

    It's also the perfect indicator of the direction that Asia's RPG market is going - it's gacha-heavy, heavily fusion-focused, and incredibly generous with its premium rewards.

    Western gamers might be drawn in by its pedigree but immediately turned off by its complexity, but for anyone interested in the genre, this is well worth a download.


  • ReRunners

    ReRunners logo

    To be honest, Klang Games' ReRunners is, on the surface, a bit of a hard sell.

    Mixing pixel art and platforming gameplay into a racing game that's also an MMO sounds like a bit of a muddy mix, after all.

    This didn't turn off London Venture Partners, which invested in the young developer in July 2015.

    And it certainly piqued Tilting Point's interest, which partnered up with Klang to publish the game back in October 2015.

    Gotta go fast

    We started tracking it in our Soft Launch list not long after the partnership, and were intrigued by its unique approach to platforming, but we didn't know if it was actually any good.

    But now it's out, and we can safely say it was worth the wait.

    As fun and clever as it is bright and colourful, ReRunners manages to capture all the joy of 16-bit platformers while bringing its own unique twists to the genre.

    It handles perfectly, the levels are wonderful to navigate, and it never punishes you for being under-levelled or simply bad at the game.

    It also makes good use of IAP and rewarded video ads, with cosmetic items being the only items players can use real-world money for.

    We haven't written much about it so far, but we're sure to have more to say about the game in the near future.


  • Pokémon GO

    Pokémon GO logo

    It was the dream of children in the '90s everywhere to go out into the world and catch Pokémon for real.

    And while these kids are now a little older, and Pokémon have yet to be discovered for real on Earth, Ninatic Labs' Pokémon GO does a remarkable job of bringing us closer to the dream.

    New approaches

    As pointed out by Matt Suckley in his piece on Nintendo's huge investment in the game, it goes to show that Nintendo knows exactly what it's doing with mobile.

    Opting to partner with Ninatic Labs was one sign of this.

    It's not the best known developer, but for location-based games, it was the obvious choice - its CEO, John Hanke, developed Google Earth, after all.

    And the move already looks to be paying off, with share prices in Nintendo shooting up after launching the game in just three markets.

    One week later

    A week after launching, Pokémon GO shows no signs of slowing down.

    It's bigger than Tinder, making $1.6 million a day, and it's added $8 billion to Nintendo's value over the first weekend of launch.

    But we're not sure its success will last.

    Matt Suckley said that the game is "greatly endent on a perfect storm of factors that will be impossible for Nintendo to replicate" in his piece on why Pokemon GO is the high water mark of Nintendo's mobile game success.

    And Jon Jordan thinks that we can't really measure its success until the first snow falls, and people are less inclined to go off the beaten path.

    In his words, "the challenge for developer Niantic Labs is to ensure the value of new Pokemon, Poke Stops and gyms can overcome the natural inertia of busy people who typically travel in fixed and limited paths."

    Our Mobile Mavens have been more enthusiastic however, with a mixture of surprise and excitement at the incredible launch of the game.


  • CSR Racing 2

    CSR Racing 2 logo

    We've been keeping our eye on CSR Racing 2 for quite a while - not least because it was in soft launch for over 8 months.

    And four years on from the original's release, there hasn't been any other game that's come close to matching it.

    But the question remains - will the sequel be able to match up to the mega-success of the first game?

    Revving up

    Early signs indicate that it might well do.

    With its gameplay, a curious mix of racing and rhythm genres, still intact, the main change is a beefing up of the graphics.

    And you can't deny that CSR Racing 2 is absolutely stunning to look at, even if you'll be keeping an eye on the gear changes most of the time.

    Social aspects have received an overhaul too, with a Crew system that you're quickly introduced to, complete with seasons and rewards for overall ranks as a crew.

    Plus there's now live multiplayer, so you can actually race head-to-head against other players for real, if that's more your speed.

    Under the hood

    We haven't said much about the game yet, as we've only had access to it for around 24 hours at time of writing.

    But rest assured that we'll be turning our attention pretty heavily to CSR Racing 2 over the next week.


  • Nonstop Knight

    Nonstop Knight logo

    When we first heard about Nonstop Knight - Flaregames partners with Finnish startup Kopla Games to publish 'accessible RPG' Project Nonstop - we weren't sure.

    Then we found out it was an idle game.

    And our excitement dropped another notch.

    Yet, when Nonstop Knight was actually released, it provided that most rare of things - a new experience in mobile gaming.

    Finding out more

    Its trick is to mix the offline gameplay of the classic idler - FarmVille, Farm Away! - with the deeper engagement of RPG levelling, both in terms of character skills and items such as weapons, armor etc.

    And it seems that the wider audience agrees.

    Nonstop Knight has been Flaregames' most successful launch ever with 2 million downloads in 4 days.

    Getting deeper

    And at PocketGamer.biz, we've since gone on to find out more about the game.

    Matt uncovered more about the development process in his All loot, no hassle: the making of Nonstop Knight article.

    "we have received an incredible amount of positive feedback and constructive criticism from other Finnish game developers, which truly helped us overcome some of the toughest design problems we had", commented Kopla Games' CEO Mika Kuusisto.

    In addition, columnist Torulf Jernström went into more detail about the game design and loops in his article What we can learn from the success of Nonstop Knight.


  • Britney Spears: American Dream

    When Glu Mobile released Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, no one outside of the company thought the game would be successful.

    Indeed, it's not really clear how many people inside Glu thought the game would be as successful - at least, if the rumours about Kardashian's royalty rate are to be believed.

    But it's gone on to become a $250 million franchise and remains Glu's #1 title in terms of quarterly revenue generated.

    And that's why Glu should now be considered the home of celebrity sims: for example, it's got games/deals ongoing with Gordon Ramsay, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj.

    However, two of the games it's released since Kim Kardashian: Hollywood suggest the whole celebrity sim market may not be as lucrative as first thought.

    The confusing gameplay of Katy Perry Pop meant the title flopped, and while Kardashian spin-off Kendall & Kylie has generated $12 million during Glu's FY16 Q1, it's gone into fast decline.

    That leaves Glu's hopes resting on Britney Spears: American Dream.

    Chart busting?

    Thankfully, the game appears to be a return to form.

    Although it includes the music-making gameplay of Katy Perry Pop, it doesn't have the confusing Katy Vision alternative world layer.

    Thanks to the band-building mechanic, there's also less focus on the dating aspects of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

    Wrapped up in a package that - as with previous games - is aggressive in terms of its energy-gating mechanics, nevertheless, Britney Spears: American Dream has good flow with respect to its early progress meta-game, plus all the usual fashion aspects of the previous three celebrity sims, and an arch rivalry (we hate you Aston Kole!) to drive some narrative tension.

    Oh, and there's Britney Spears too...

    Glu seems to have learned its lessons well.

  • Hungry Shark World

    Hungry Shark World logo

    Indie developer Future Games of London was acquired by Ubisoft in 2013 for just this opportunity.

    Best known for its Hungry Shark series of fun-if-rather-gory eat-'em ups - which had done around 100 million downloads - the studio has since been working hard on what it hoped would be its most successful release to-date.

    And that's exactly what's happened with Hungry Shark World.

    Meta eat-'em up

    Combining the simple endless-chomping gameplay with some light meta-gameplay, which involves unlocking more sharks, helpful pets and odd accessories, the title has been downloaded 10 million times during its launch week.

    More importantly, it's also really, really good fun.

    But Ubisoft will be happiest to see that Hungry Shark World has entered the US iPhone top 50 grossing chart, and obviously that doesn't include all the indirect revenue it's generating from rewarded video ads.

    That's all something we consider in our IAP Inspector on the game. 

    Will it be this year's Crossy Road?


  • Marvel Avengers Alliance 2

    Marvel Avengers Alliance 2 logo

    As fans of EA's branded CCG/RPG Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, we were looking forward to Disney's take on the genre with its MARVEL: Avengers Alliance 2.

    The game, which has you unlocking and levelling up Marvel characters as you 3v3 battle your way through goons and super villains, has some significant differences from EA's take however.

    It's something Ric Cowley considered in his comparison opinion piece - Auto battles: The differing design decisions of Marvel: Avengers Alliance 2 and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.

    The most obvious reason for Disney not including the increasingly important auto-play mode is it wants to force players to force more on gameplay - which requires a high level of tactical awareness thanks to its buff/debuff system.

    As for the game's monetisation, that was covered in Matt Suckley's IAP Inspector, which noted: " is not an ungenerous game, but one whose IAPs are priced out of contention for all but the committed."


  • Clash Royale

    Clash Royale logo

    Already on track to make $1 billion, Supercell's much anticipated, much hyped and finally released CCG/MOBA  Clash Royale has fulfilled the buzz.

    With massive backing from Apple and Google, it launched to heavy downloads that quickly converted into top grossing status.

    But aside from the cash, what's been equally interesting to see is how the game has opened up new areas of mobile gaming for discussion.

    Ric Cowley and Matt Suckley debated whether or not it could ignite the nascent mobile eSports market.

    Cash in

    Matt returned to the game in more detail as part of his IAP Inspector series, noting the compulsive nature of the gameplay as well as the straightforward way in which it employs its soft and hard currency monetisation.

    That was something the Monetizer Mavens drilled down into with much more detail, pointing to the smart integration of short session times, gated rewards as well as Supercell's most aggressive monetisation yet in terms of the amount that can be spent in a game.

    For Clash of Clans, the limit was around $15,000 but for Clash Royale it anything up to $50,000 - thanks to the gacha card mechanics.

    Meanwhile, in a more holistic way, Jon Jordan considered the game's wide appeal and deep monetisation, in his provocatively title article Genius: Why Clash Royale is for losers.

    Oh, and we also had some fun with our April Fool's.


  • Futurama: Game of Drones

    Futurama: Game of Drones logo

    When Wooga announced it was making a game using the Futurama licence, many expected a character-based sim game in the same mold as EA's The Simpsons: Tapped Out or TinyCo's Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff.

    Wooga had other plans, however.

    Thanks to its success with match-3 games such as Diamond Dash and Jelly Splash, it was experienced in the genre so decided to give it a tactical switch.

    Match one more

    In that context, the headline for Futurama: Game of Drones is that it's a match-4 game; obviously 33% better than any match-3 game.

    But thanks to the way the chain reaction and power up system works, the player does get more control and from a game design, it's fair to say that the experience is a notch up from the likes of Candy Crush.

    Of course, whether the game is a success depends partly on how well this gameplay combines with the Futurama IP and how Futurama fans react.

    But our initial reactions were positive, and the IAP Inspector gave the game a pass


  • Downtown Showdown

    Downtown Showdown logo

    Japanese developer COLOPL is one of the big boys in its home market.

    Thanks to the massive success of F2P mobile games such as Quiz RPG and White Cat Project, it competes head on with the like of GungHo and Mixi.

    And now it's taking those millions and attempting to take over the world.

    Setting up its North American division COLOPL NI, it's already localised White Cat Project as Rune Story.

    Latest game Downtown Showdown is an original title for the west, however.

    We built this city

    Labelled - by us - as Clash of Clans meets SimCity, the game has a main building element, which is backed by two multiplayer modes.

    The Clash of Clans-esque one is Rivals, which has you plundering others' cities for resources. It's fairly lightweight, though.

    More interesting - as states the IAP Inspector - is the timed synchronous Showdown mode, which has you playing against another player or AI, to build the best town in the time available.

    And more generally, the game's neat touches of humour and general generosity and joie de vivre makes it an enjoyable experience.


  • BattleHand

    BattleHand logo

    Card battlers are all the rage now, but BattleHand builds on the foundation of games such as Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and Heroes Charge, bringing its own charms.

    Developed by London studio Another Place, which consists of some ex-Lionehead/Fable veterans, and published by Kongregate, the game is unmistakeably British, at least in terms of humour.

    It's something which takes the edge off the fantasy setting and memes, which can otherwise easily become cliched and worn.

    Going deep

    However, the game is well honed when it comes to meta-game aspects such as auto-play and raiding, which enable experienced players to maximise their time in pursuit of the in-game resources they need to level up characters and items.

    Also of note is the game's tutorial process - which as noted by our IAP Inspector - is generous and helps to set up the game world.


Comments

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Gaming Unicorn Marketing Director
It's a polished game, and it has a nice core loop, but for fans of the series, Intelligent Systems has done the equivalent of turning chess into checkers. There is no perma-death. If you fail a stage, you can pay to continue - making the product pay-to-win. The small map and limited number of characters you can control in battle make the experience more about the stats of your cards than your strategic skills. Gacha is less consumer friendly and far lower value than the novel solution 3DS provided for Fire Emblem Fates: buying an Amiibo of a legendary character (like Marth), which you can scan in, battle, and add to your team. FE Heroes also requires an internet connection, which makes it vulnerable to sunsetting. It's a real Fire Emblem game, but it's also a series low point - the "Superman IV" or "Phantom Menace" of the series.
Rejane Balisi
This game is really cool , i love the characters.Never before i play mobile game again then i discover this WWE Champions and Arcadia Phantasm https://t.co/ObjJQmkjj9 .

Mathieu Castelli C4M Productions
I find the squad controls clumsy.
I also find the battle end zoom on 'vibrating' troops around the giant not on par with the production value, strange to zoom on a defect probably due to pathfinding/positioning.
Mathieu Castelli C4M Productions
This comment was for Dawn of Titans.
This thread is attached to changing games which is a bit weird...
Greg Quinn CEO/Lead Developer at Meltdown Interactive Media
Yeah, it is a bit weird.
Gaming Unicorn Marketing Director
When CSR2 hit the market, it looked like Natural Motion might become part of a new wave of developers embracing transparency in pricing. The game's base currencies were not offset from real dollar value: 300 gold coins cost $3.00, 500 gold coins cost $5.00, and gacha could be skipped entirely in favor of directly purchasing cars. Better still, currency pack prices did not exceed $9.99. This was an evolutionary step forward, which left me excited to see how they managed pricing on their next game, Dawn of Titans. Well, it's out, and it's a massive step backwards. Offset currency is all they offer, and that indefensible $99.99 IAP bundle has reared its ugly head, too. It's sad, because I know this one has been in development for a long time... but the monetization model leaves me unwilling to even give it a download.
TitanBrawl
Thank you all for your comments!
Here's the team behing Titan Brawl:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiPBArp1Aa8
Jak Marshall Games Analyst
This game is gorgeous to play, no doubt about that.

Being able to play this game and maintain a sense of progression from session to session as you complete the checkpoints is somewhat tempting. I'll be keen to see quite how many casual consumers agree with that notion. We're in uncertain territory. I've never seen a game charge the player to have a save file!
Min Zhang
This game has really high production values.
The gameplay is a pretty innovative take on card battling.
The energy and monetization has some weird asian influenced stuff going on though. It will be interesting to see if the game can be successful long term.
Jennifer Bradshaw Data Analyst at DHXMedia
Thank you VERY much for having the option to toggle a one-page view instead of a slideshow! Those annoy me to no end.
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